Raw: Heading into the big date
NICK TYWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
These days, the money for WWE shows is overseas. So we're headed for Birmingham, England, for another merry edition of Ye Olde Flagship Wrestling Show, a.k.a. Raw. Christian gets his chance to step up to the plate with a world title shot against Batista, plus Viscera is hitting the town with Trish Stratus. It's Raw, U.K. style.
Pulling out all of the stops for the foreign fans, the WWE has a pretty cool set for tonight's broadcast that looks like a Union Jack flag with the Titan Tron screen in the middle. Jonathan Coachman is still announcing, and as Smackdown's Carlito Cool would say, that's not cool. Batista is first to step in the ring, looking dapper in a suit and tie. The world champ says he's here to honor one man, a man who just last week accomplished a feat it took Big Dave a long time to achieve by beating Triple H. That man, of course, is good ol' J.R. The fans join Batista in cheering the courageous announcer, but The Game shows up before too long to spoil the party. Dave shuts him up by repeatedly showing the footage of Ross' big victory, and some more pleasantries are exchanged. Trips fakes coming to the ring for a confrontation before thinking better of it, and Ross joins Jerry Lawler at the announce table. Thank goodness.
I forgot, or maybe intentionally didn't mention, that Backlash is less than a week away. It seems that Viscera versus Kane has been added to the card, but that's not doing much to make me want to order it more. In any case, Trish is waiting nervously at The Brasshouse, planning on leaving because Viscera is late. The big man shows up just in the nick of time, apologizing because he had to stop at the drugstore for, ahem, protection. He asks for a table for two, somewhere very romantic.
Match 1 - Chris Jericho vs. Sylvain Grenier
Normally I would make a crack about the members of La Resistance here, but after sitting through the debut of the Heart Throbs last week, I'm going to give them a pass. Grenier jumps all over Jericho early, but Y2J finds his rhythm, finishing a barrage of offense with a bulldog. A Lionsault misses but Jericho lands on his feet to hit a running enzuigiri. Robert Conway lends a hand by distracting the ref until he's dispatched by a springboard dropkick. The Walls of Jericho are applied and Grenier quickly submits. La Resistance regroups to launch a post-match assault, but Jericho's Backlash opponent Shelton Benjamin hustles down to make the save. Jericho chastises the Intercontinental champ for "stealing the spotlight," but Shelton drops him with a t-bone suplex and wonders, "who's the bitch now?" That's a reference to last week. Seriously, just
click on the link already if you missed it.
The big date continues with Viscera giving his own definition for bangers and mash - just use your imagination. Telling Trish that eating puts him in the mood, Vis goes on to order an entire page from the menu. Back at the arena, Ric Flair bursts into the dressing room of Christian and Tyson Tomko with a proposal that the two men help Triple H by doing a number on Batista in the main event. An unimpressed Captain Charisma suggests that Trips might be able to beat Michael Cole if he is selected by Smackdown in the upcoming draft and tells Tomko to escort Mr. Flair out of the room. This just in: the Nature Boy just got totally served. Thanks Robot Chicken.
Rolling along from the last segment, Christian and Tomko strut down to the ring. Captain Charisma promises to talk slow for the intellectually challenged Brits, then goes on to talk about winning the title and carrying the WWE torch no matter where he ends up after the draft. Speaking of torch, fire erupts to signal the entrance of Kane. The Big Red Machine makes short work of Tomko while Christian flees through the crowd, and the Problem Solver ends up on the wrong end of a choke slam. And that's that I suppose. Backstage, Lita gives Maria an interview that makes no impression on me whatsoever.
Christian finds the Evolution locker room and sings a completely different tune to Flair, blaming his earlier attitude on Tomko. Triple H eventually comes to the door and decides to let the Michael Cole crack slide so they can talk business. Out in the ring, Chris Masters once again offers up his own money to anyone who can break his full nelson ... um, I mean Master Lock. But this time he's offering 1000 pounds, and we all know that's a bit more than $1000. This week's contestant fares no better than the previous blokes, and SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer is literally frothing at the mouth to get his shot.
This is a wrestling show, right? I'm sure we're near or at the halfway mark and the good people of Birmingham have seen a grand total of one match. We don't get any more here, as Coach tries to get Shawn Michaels' thoughts on whether or not the egos of Hulk Hogan and HBK can coexist at Backlash. Upset with the insinuation of that question, Michaels tells Coach to hit the road and brings in Mean Gene Okerlund to finish up with him and, oh yeah, Hogan is there too. It's old school promo cutting the way you like it, capped off with Hogan ripping off his shirt. Michaels tries too but to no avail.
Next up is Christy Hemme leading the Raw Divas to the ring. They also invite the Daily Star girls to join them - Dale informs me that these are the ladies who pose topless on page 3 of the Star. Wait, really? It turns out that the whole point of this exercise is to plug William Regal's upcoming autobiography, and Regal and Tajiri join the ladies for a little celebration in the ring. Ah, but
wherever bimbos tread, Muhammad Hassan and Daivari are sure to follow. Hassan does his usual best to insult the hometown fans and rile up the men and women in the ring while saving a bit of venom for Michaels and Hogan. He finishes by challenging the tag team champs to a match. Make it so.
Match 2 - William Regal and Tajiri vs. Muhammad Hassan and Daivari
No belts are on the line, but that doesn't stop both teams from doing plenty of double teaming. Tajiri gets to unleash his whole arsenal of kicks and his handspring back elbow. He's finally derailed by an inverted version of Hassan's Jihad Drop (which I will continue to call it until it gets a real name), and Daivari follows with a guillotine leg drop to get the pinfall. Regal tries to extract a measure of revenge after the bell, but he ends up in the Camel Clutch with some kicks to the face for good measure.
Part 3 of The Date features more innuendo from Viscera and a display of his dance moves once he reveals that the restaurant has a dance floor. Unfortunately, the waiter gets a little too close, and hilarity ensues. Or at least that's the idea. Cheque please!
Match 3 - Edge vs. Val Venis
I'm not as surprised by this third match so soon after the second as I am by the revelation that Venis is still on the active roster. Edge comes out firing until a hotshot, a clothesline and a back body drop take some of the starch out of him. Val goes up top for the Money Shot but lands hard on Edge's knees. One Spear misses but a second doesn't, and that's all she wrote for Val. Edge decides to dish out some more punishment with an Impaler, a Sharpshooter and the Crippler Crossface. Chris Benoit decides he's seen enough and rushes down to deliver three of his patented rolling German suplexes.
The Coach gets a surprise when he's visited by Triple H, Flair and Christian. The heels' plan for the main event comes into focus with Flair as guest timekeeper, Trips as special one-time Problem Solver, and Coach as the special guest referee. Coachman wants to phone Eric Bischoff for permission, but The Game makes it clear that his is the only permission needed.
And at The Brasshouse, The Date reaches its epic conclusion. Viscera is ready for dessert, but Trish makes it clear that until the big man makes sure Kane is completely out of the picture, she's not going to be doing the deed. But Vis did take her out, so she opens her shirt and gives him some extra motivation for Backlash. If only the camera wasn't behind her...
Main Event - Christian vs. Batista - World Heavyweight Title Match
Christian wastes no time attacking before the bell, but his advantage lasts only as long as it takes for the champ to compose himself and send his foe flying out to the floor. The action goes back inside for Batista to hit a sidewalk slam and a power slam, but Coach is too busy with his shoelaces to make a count. The Game sneaks in for a low blow and we head to commercial. We return to find the champ in trouble, but he powers out of a submission hold. Christian uses a distraction by HHH to attempt an Unprettier; Batista counters with an electric chair drop. Coach counts to two before feigning an arm injury, earning him a short-arm clothesline from the champ. Big Dave cleans the ring of all Evolution presence before hitting the sit-down power bomb on Christian and using Coach's limp arm to count the pinfall. There's no time to celebrate as Flair and Helmsley regroup with a steel chair, and while Batista fends off their first attack, Trips manages to sneak in again and drop Dave
with a Pedigree. The Game stands triumphant headed into Backlash, but that's a story for another time. Good night everyone!
Next week: The aftermath of Backlash, and Viscera may get some action from Trish Stratus. And I might win the Powerball lottery for $40 million! Also we'll look ahead to the draft with some help from special guest Mel Kiper.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's currently conducting a study about the effects of online poker and vodka and cranberry on the writing of TV wrestling reports. All relevant data can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org